Bear-ly the same

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- The previous incarnation of the Monsters of the Midway had fearsome linebacker Mike Singletary.

This year's version of Da Bears has Brian Urlacher as its terrorizing tackler.

The Super Bowl-champ Monsters of 1985 had colourful Jim McMahon at quarterback. These cub contenders? Kyle Orton.

And there, for now, is where the great debate of Windy City football powers must end.

As impressive as the current Bears (9-3) have been heading into today's meeting with the slipping Pittsburgh Steelers, the quarterback dilemma is one being debated in and around the Walter Payton Center where the team trains.

Did we mention Payton? Yes, Sweetness was the running back when the Bears capped a 15-1 season with a Super Bowl triumph. As good as the defence was back then, as it is now, there was also some offence.

Urlacher, who was given a rousing ovation by Bears fans when he walked off an elevator in downtown Pittsburgh yesterday, is flattered by the comparisons. To a point.

"I am and I'm not," Urlacher said earlier in the week when asked about the inevitable comparisons of the two Bears teams.

"We haven't won any games in the playoffs, yet," he said. "Statistically during the regular season, we compare. If we can win (a Super Bowl), I'll definitely be happy to be compared to them."

There is no questioning the Bears defence, which has yielded just 127 points through 12 games, the same amount the 1985 team had after a dozen. Opponents are averaging just 262.8 yards of total offence against the Bears this season.

But before there is any Super Bowl Shuffle reprise, the Bears might want to find at least a sniff of an offence. The Bears are winning in spite of Orton, who last week was a miserable 6-for-17 and a meagre 68 yards in a 19-7 win over the Green Bay Packers.

The Bears haven't scored more than 20 points since Oct. 16, the start of their eight-game winning streak, and there are calls for Rex Grossman, who is healthy again after a training camp injury, to replace Orton.

"We're winning, but we obviously want to get better," Bears centre Olin Kreutz said. "We have to get better pretty quick. We believe in our offence, but we want to give our defence more help."

The Bears might want to get moving, starting today against a Pittsburgh team not lacking in motivation. The Steelers, 15-1 regular-season stars of 2004, could fall to 7-6 and out of the AFC playoff race with a fourth consecutive loss.


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